Combat animation for Star Wars: The Old Republic has been detailed in the most recent developer blog by principal lead animator Mark How.
How explains the thought process behind designing lightsaber battles, stating:
"Once we knew what our rules were for combat, the programmers and animators were able to create a Lightsaber clashing system that could predict the volleys of weapons fire and other attacks being thrown at the player from all directions, and have the player dynamically react to 'block' these attacks. Not only that, but we were able to keep this system active while players were deflecting directed attacks, engaged in melee combat or even running."
Another issue the team faced was addressing whether the likes of Han Solo could compete directly against Darth Vader. This was solved through the introduction of a cover system.
"The cover element has provided a tactical way for the Smuggler and Imperial Agent classes to be competitive against their Force wielding and gadget-toting opponents. Deciding we were going to create a cover system was one thing; creating it was something else. It took many hours of research, play-acting and experimentation to nail down the animations for ducking into, rolling into, or just dodging into cover."
Star Wars: The Old Republic may be delayed until 2012, however EA still has a date set internally for the end of the year.